Waterloo Region shuffles service delivery for vulnerable people in bid to improve access

The Region of Waterloo's administration building in Kitchener. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

Waterloo Region has made some changes which it says will make life easier for vulnerable people who access its services.

The region has integrated services such as children’s services, housing services and employment and income support, which Arran Rowles, director of strategy and quality initiatives in community services, says will save people aggravation and also make sure they are connected it to the right service.

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Rowles says that under the old system, a client could have had to visit offices on several floors in different cities in order to access several services offered by the region.

She described the experience as “stressful, time-consuming, expensive [and] anxiety-provoking” for vulnerable residents within the region.

Rowles said the region now has three primary locations in the three major centres which will help get people the help they need.

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“We have one in point of access in those buildings. It’s called the ‘welcome space’,” she explained.

“So any client comes into this space and talks to a navigator,” a new role that has recently been created, she says.

“They will listen to a person’s story and connect them to the right service.”

The region says there will be people from the different services working on the same team, which will help provide complimentary support to residents.

If the client consents, each service area will also be able to share files so that they only have to explain their needs once.

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“If we had a staff member who was meeting with someone and they started talking about something, you know, a need that wasn’t a part of the service this person delivered,” Rowles said, “often we would try and assist, but the assistance would be ‘here’s a phone number to call,’ or ‘you should go and find this service.’”

Under the new setup which the region has piloted, she says, “we’ve got many examples of them saying, ‘hey, hang on just a second. I’m going to go get my colleague who does this work and we’ll talk to you together.’”

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